Sunday, September 11, 2011

Twas the night before...

Twas the night before Christmas.

Not exactly.

More like the night before my first client.

Before and After. Two words full of curious meaning. Often I am anxious for the “after” and disregard the importance of before.

Before. Before I have seen my first client.

I guess I don't expect there to be magic. I don't expect rainbows or light to fall from heaven. But I don't really know what to expect. I had my first couple days at the high school this last week. This high school is the last stop to juvie. These kids got kicked out of the regular public high school for behavioral and learning issues. The goal is to rehabilitate them back to regular high school. That or Juvenile Hall. I came to set up my office. I can't believe I have my own office! Complete with a window (that faces a fenced in dumpster, shed, white truck and garbage cans) Still it's a window. I have a desk and I have a table for art. It was pretty dusty when I came in and cluttered so I'm trying to organize. I'm trying to bring in some color. Some paintings, books, pictures. There are 3 chairs I might add some pillows. The white walls and old chairs make it look very archaic and dull. I am in the far back of the library. My supervisor mentioned I should keep my chair closest to the door.

My roommate, Janice told me these first couple weeks are sacred and to really utilize them because things get crazy. I won't have as many clients these first couple weeks and can focus more on their case, research their problems and do better diagnosing.

I'm not sure what I'll do when my first client walks in the door. I'm afraid I'll freeze and say something super inappropriate or un-therapeutic. Will we do art? Play games? Will I say “What brings you in here” with a fake voice? Will I laugh if they say a dirty joke? Am I going to cry when they tell me their sad story? I hope I have good boundaries. It was weird walking onto the campus this week. I mean the kids are in high school. They look old. I could easily blend into them I feel like. Hopefully they know I am the therapist. This week I felt unproductive because I couldn't fill out the emergency cards and I couldn't get online and my phone in the office wasn't working. I don't know who to ask, who to call or what to do. My supervisor just got back from his trip and had to go straight into emergency surgery with his wife for her knees apparently. Soooo I called my friend who is also starting practicum but at a different high school. He said it's weird no one knows who you are and what you're doing and you don't even know what you should be doing. He said he was going to hang up some posters. HAHA.

Today my roommates went with me to get some professional clothes. That way it is clear I am the therapist and NOT a high school student. My supervisor has already pounded into my head that the guys who have not seen the best life has to offer will fall in love with me considering me the ideal of everything they lost, or never had.

This week I also went through all my potential client/student's files and case notes from previous therapists. It was exciting till I started to read the stories. I sat in my office tears coming to my eyes, sincerely hoping the guy I met across the hall didn't see me wiping my eyes. Part of me doesn't feel experienced enough at all to know how to be there for kids in and out of foster homes, group homes, prostitution, cutting, drugs, fights, suspension. I obviously have not dealt with much conduct disorder in my day. I fear my inexperience and innocence will get in the way.

What I can relate to in their vulnerable files is the feelings of wanting your family near you but them also driving you crazy at moments, being terrified of an ex-boyfriend, wanting to do the right thing but not knowing how. I can relate to the feelings of anxiety and fear. I can relate to doing things to numb the pain in life. I can empathize with deep wounds. While their acting out symptoms are extreme, I resonate with their loss because loss comes in different forms and comes from different places. However it does feel similar.

I don't know what's going to happen in this office I will reside in this next year. But I pray it's sacred ground. I pray my clients feel genuine love and warmth. I pray that they would be able to change. I pray that even though life has dealt them a rough hand of cards they would be brave enough to pursue and push for new cards, and to make the best of the cards they have. I wish I was in a place where I could yell, "YES GOD CHANGED ME AND I AM ON FIRE FOR HIM!!!" But I am in a place of need still. A place of skepticism. A place of doubt. I am begging my insides to know God is real. I am clinging vigorously to a gut feeling that Jesus does change me. You. Us.

I'm not sure I feel big or brave enough to foster such a change or even an environment for that kind of change. But I really do think that change isn't always external and if someone feels genuinely accepted and cared for, a bit of their broken heart begins to transform. So I pray that. I pray for healing. When I look back on the therapists that affected me the most they were not the ones who knew the Christian language, who gave me a speech on theology or told me I was not Biblically sound. They held me in my pain. I saw my tears in their eyes. I saw them believe in me. This is sacred. It is then I have found Jesus in this space.

I want my clients to feel love. I don't want to just believe the idea of spirituality is simply great for coping. I want my clients to be overwhelmed by a Presence that is extremely good.

Twas the night before my first client. And all through the house, not a "Heather Sherwood" was sleeping, for her brain was a leaping.(give me a break. I tried!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why sometimes it's worth it to pay for an experience.

Recently all my money has been going to one specific thing.

My health.

I created a budget and apparently the amount I budgeted for health is not nearly enough.

So, to make a long story short, I, Heather ran a race last year, April 2010. It wasn't even a long race. But,after that something happened to my legs. My IT band hurt all the time. My hamstrings hurt. Soon my feet hurt. Suddenly I couldn't wear flip flops or heels. Then my hips started to hurt. Before I knew it, I was in so much pain I could hardly walk a block, let alone run. I had been a runner my whole life and without warning I woke up realizing I had to plan my day revolving around how far my feet could go. I was diagnosed with a combination of plantar fascitiis and tendonitis and overly inflamed hips. But after a year, doctors are still confused over my symptoms and why I have not healed faster.

Needless to say I entered the exciting arena of the medical health professionals. Doctor visit after doctor visit. I gave up speed dating for "speed doctoring" and let me tell you, I know where the real raw experience is at now. So far I have seen a chiropractor, a physical therapist, an orthopedic, a nutritionist, massage therapist, a podiatrist and a nurse practitioner. The solutions they have given me vary a bit but most of them fall into these three categories:

1. Drugs (need I say more)
2. Referral ( aka "I think it's time for you to see a physical therapist for awhile"...)
3. Natural remedies (stretching, ice, vitamins, change diet, foam rolling, yoga )

The funny thing about these solutions is how they actually boil down to one simple solution to all of life's health problems:

1. Money

Truth is, even with insurance, drugs are expensive. A massage therapist is pricy. And I had no idea how expensive it was to eat more healthy and invest in a whole slew of vitamins, fish oil, magnesium, calcium, Sublingual B-12,liquid mineral supplements, Floridex liquid iron among other things. And referrals end up being expensive depending on how many gadgets they want you to buy to "invest" in your health.

You always thought money couldn't buy happiness but it just might. After all happiness is about an experience and the experiences I have had are priceless. Like the day I had an apt with my new nurse practitioner for the first time. She asked if she could bring in a med student who was shadowing her for the day. How could I say no? But the minute he walked in I realized I should have said no. He was young (as in 20's and I wondered if he had ever seen real blood before by his innocent face) And second he was cute which made me feel more on edge. (and by cute I mean not even close to how cute my boyfriend is) The nurse decided to break the ice by asking about my sexual life and if I had any diseases. Next she asked about skin diseases. Lastly she asked for me to point to the picture on the wall of the poop that described me most. Poop 1. Poop 2. Poop 3. Poop 4. I looked over as the med. student sheepishly laughed. We ended our lovely time with her having me lay on the table while she asked if she could lift my shirt up. (Right) So the med student could see my abs and feel how tight my hips are. Dang are they tight. Yes. That's why I'm here.

My appointment with the orthopedic wasn't nearly as magical. She poked at my legs and feet for several minutes. Rambled off some possible diagnoses and finally said condescendingly and with as much bite as possible, "Do you have some kind of pain problem?"
"Yes. That's why I'm here" I said.
"Are you depressed?" she said.
"No", but the reality was, I was starting to feel rather depressed suddenly and ironically.
Even if I was severely depressed I was mortified by the way she approached such a subject. I felt bad for the rest of her patients and didn't go back to her.

My appointment with the podiatrist promised to be the answer if I could chuck out 500 for the orthotics. I am starting to believe if you just pay enough you could actually grow a new foot. I mean my colonoscopy was a couple thousand and I'm pretty sure they implanted a new ass for me. Then again I was on a lot of drugs and would have believed them if they said they gave me a sex change.

Within the last couple days, weeks, I have spent literally hundreds on new minerals and vitamins, new anti-inflammatory drugs, new shoes, blood work, new inserts, and x-rays. I have decided there has to be a better solution than spending money to heal (or to even cope for that matter) So here are my new solutions:

1. Become a cheetah. I would love to become a cheetah. Then I could run super fast and my feet wouldn't hurt. That's because I would have paws and they would be furry and I just feel like they would feel so much better. If doctors would recommend becoming a cheetah I think a lot of good could be done for those who have leg/foot injuries. Becoming a cheetah would be free of course because it's about the power of the mind. If you believe long enough, you would start to transform into a cheetah.

2. Grow wings. Who really needs to run if you can fly? I don't know why this hasn't been invented. I mean if surgeons perform face lifts, breast implants, and botox, you would think wings would be no biggie. Then we could get rid of cars and all this pollution. We could fly to work and school.

3. Invent a time travel machine. If doctors invented a time travel machine, I could go back and meet Jesus. I am convinced he would heal my feet and legs with one touch, one look. Of course if I went back far enough in time I would find I was a monkey and the whole "healing thing" was super unnecessary.

Even though these solutions are free, I think I've decided I would probably pay for these solutions. I think this type of experience is more what I'm looking for. I'm kind of over the stoic feeling of a big building, white walls and sterile environment.

If you have pain of any kind do share your top 3 solutions. We really need to start informing and educating the public health field!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The 99th Sheep

I have been tortured by an image in my head.
It involves white gray fuzz, a sound of rummaging, soft wool and beady eyes.
Yes sheep. I am disturbed by sheep.

But I am not disturbed by just any ordinary sheep. I am miserable over the 99th sheep. And no, I didn't say the 100th sheep. The lambie lamb who ran away. I am talking about the sheep that stayed. I am talking about the parable of Jesus in Luke 15.

Those sheep in the pen. They are just happy and safe and secure in the pasture. They love their sheep herder man. It's cool that the sheep herder man leaves them to go find the lost sheep right? Is it? Where did the lost sheep go? No one knows for sure, but what is exciting is that these sheep are jolly and eating their green grass.

But that 99th sheep in the pen is NOT jolly. The safe happy pen is not happy. That sheep's woolly white clothing carpet has turned gray. This sheep doesn't merrily chew on grass. His beady eyes are heavy. He lays by the very edge of the pen, the closest to the outside.

He feels like he is on the outside looking in.

But the other sheep tell him, “No, you are on the inside! You should be happy”

But the sheep is not happy. The sheep is sad. The sheep that the herder went out looking for was very close to 99 sheep's heart. Sheep 100 abandoned everyone and now sheep herder dude is out searching for him. Sheep 99 misses his best friend and his Shepherd.

Sheep 99 wishes that the Shepherd would come find him even if he is inside the pen. He does not feel found. He wants to be rescued. He feels lonely and isolated. He feels like his other sheep friends only care that they are in. Everyone breathe a sigh of relief, “we are on the inside”.

But sheep 99 is on the outside.

At least that's how it feels.

Does the Shepherd go out to save those who walk away from him? Who left the pen? Who never discovered the pen? Does the Shepherd feed grass to those He loves?

What does he do with someone who has loved Him for 20 plus years but is now tired, bored, feels alone and sleeps at the very edge of the pen, planning an escape.

Sheep 99 only wants to make a run for it so he can be rescued.

He wants to be chased.
He wants to be fought for.
He wants to be pursued after.

Sheep 99 doesn't want the Shepherd leaving 99 sheep. He also wants Shepherd to find the lost sheep. He can't sleep till his friend is home. Sheep 100's life was unfair. This sheep was abused by a big bad wolf, but was too afraid to tell anyone. Instead sheep 100 hates the Shepherd for not being there when he needed him most. So Sheep 100 left.

Sheep 99 didn't leave physically. But Sheep 99's heart is somewhere else. Sheep 99 has survivor guilt too. Sheep 99 curls up in a fuzzy ball on a space with no grass. Just dirt. It's dusk now and the Shepherd is not back. He is out searching for that lost sheep. Sometimes Sheep 99 wishes the Shepherd would search for the naive and ignorant sheep in the pen too. He wishes the Shepherd would show them other pastures. He wishes they weren't so comfortable knowing that others were eaten by wolves and that they were safe. He wishes they cared more about the Shepherd's presence rather than having an “in” to the gate.

The gate doesn't have a lock or a code or a key. They seem to think so though. They don't feel the weight of their freedom. They don't feel the pain of those in the gate or the pain of those outside.

I guess that's what I'm disturbed by. I keep having this mental image of the Shepherd, of God tracking down a lost sheep in the treacherous mountains somewhere. Leaving the rest of the silly little sheep in the dust. But the more I come into this picture I notice something else. The lost sheep is me. It's you. It's the sheep that was mutilated by the wolf. It's the happy naive careless sheep. It's the 99 sheep who feels alone and forgotten, who dreams of an escape. Jesus is after that sheep. I am the 100th sheep. You are the 100th sheep. We are all the 100th sheep.

I'm not really sure what all those 99 sheep are doing in the pen. But it's more about perception right? Those sheep could be lost too.

And when you're lost you can bet your Rescuer will notice before you even put one hoof in front of you, before you silently inch off the dusty ground, before you twitched. He saw you lost and He was already on His way to find You and bring you back.

Not to a pen.

But to Him.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Attachment is Cozy

I think most would assume the point of a blog is to create a space for real feelings, raw thoughts and crazy encounters in life, not writing about what one is studying. Then again I think about what I am studying ALL the time. What I am studying (marriage, family, child therapy) is part of my real feelings, my raw thought life and my wild and crazy life experience. While I should pull myself away from my lengthy textbooks I can't seem to because my textbooks show up in real life. Imagine that! Today I talked to a woman at the park about her career in pharmacy. She laughed when I said, "passion". "Passionate? Riiighhht..." But I actually AM passionate about what I study. It's a good thing too because I'll have my student loans to remind me every day when I graduate! Cheers.

Most recently I have been pondering ATTACHMENT. My roommate and I discuss attachment at great lengths to each other all the time. The idea of healthy loyalty. It's the hug that keeps on hugging. The smile that keeps on grinning. The honesty that breaks the ice. The confidence that empowers one to reach for your hand. This concept first came from a man named John Bowlby who was influenced by psychoanalytic theory and ethology. Attachment is basically an affectional tie from one person to another. It is a lasting emotional bond that one person has with another. According to attachment theory, any new close relationships that form later in life (after infancy) are influenced by those first initial attachments whether that be mom, dad, grandma, a nanny or whoever was your primary care giver.

The crazy thing is that everyone has ATTACHMENT. While some will deny the power of it they do have it. It is more a matter of whether or not you have a secure or insecure attachment that really influences your life and your relationships. Since I "sit around" and nanny all day I observe Owen's development, not only cognitive, but emotional, social and psychological. Owen has a secure attachment to his mom. And over the weeks and months I have come to see Owen develop a secure attachment to me. It is so exciting!

The secure attachment Owen has with me means that he obtains both comfort and confidence from my presence. He feels free to explore the park if I am there. Slide. Bridge. Sand Box. Stairs. But if I wonder off around the corner of a bush to a drinking fountain he notices. He is not entirely distressed. But he notices and he follows me there, like he did today at the park. Someone with an insecure attachment either avoids connection altogether or has extreme anxiety at separation. One extreme or the other. Overly clingy or overly indifferent and avoid ant. 

Today Owen ran in front of me like a goon, down a hilly sidewalk, racing to the playground. He naturally slipped and fell flat on his face. Moms and other kids saw the trauma and looked up. Owen pulled himself up off the ground and immediately began balling his eyes out, tears freely streaming down his face, and started running to me. I crouched down next to him and held him and empathized with his pain. Almost immediately his countenance changed, he relaxed in my arms and became calm and within seconds was escaping my arms, leaping off to the playground yelling, "bye bye boo-boo!"

That is the stellar thing about secure attachment. It appears to empower people to leap off the ground and yell "bye bye boo boo!" to relational wounds experienced that were in fact from insecure attachments. While the face plant on the cement sidewalk may take longer than a couple seconds to recover in real life, the truth is, people can recover.

Secure attachment brings about a confident individual. Confidence in the relationship. Trust in the person they are connected with. A certain level of predictability but also a certain level of exploration and discovery is present. I haven't entirely figured out my attachment style. I do know that it seems to be more natural for me with females over males and this could be due to growing up with sisters. My insecure attachments could be due to moving multiple times growing up and living in 5 different states. Perhaps I didn't feel enough "consistency" relationally even though I grew up in a great family. I know that a lot of my romantic relationships for whatever reason, were not secure attachments. My pendulum would swing from pursuer to distancer. One minute I would be clingy, the next I would be avoidant and dis-connected. I was afraid of losing them. The next minute I was convinced I would be relieved if I left the relationship. I know this makes me sound entirely bipolar but this is a very normal human thing. ME versus THEM. When in reality, healthy attachments are about two people being IN something together, not competing, but fighting for something together.

The most secure attachment I can literally form is with a hero named Jesus. (Trust me I did ponder how cliche this will sound and I decided it's true so I don't care!) Jesus is the one Person I can be guaranteed of NEVER leaving. He is always on my side. In Him I am both free and confident. Even when I lose sight of Him, He is watching me. Even when I distance and avoid Him, He still remains consistent. He is literally the gift that keeps on giving ! He doesn't run out. I am of all people high-maintenance and He has not given up on me yet! I don't have to "be" someone for Him to love me. He loves me fiercely simply because He can and does.

While sometimes I miss it, I see Jesus every day. He is in those around me forming those secure strong attachments. He is in the little hand of Owen that reaches out to hold my hand, so tightly. He is there as Owen mirrors my emotional state after a rough day because of a lame comment someone said to me. Owen says, "I sorry" ever so gently from his car seat in the back as I drive us home fighting my rage and my tears. Owen's eyes show me empathy. They show me a God who does care. I see Jesus in the eyes of someone new. A familiar presence yet still fighting my demons of doubt. I see Jesus in how he pursues me. Giving me more than I deserve but doing so because he simply wants to. His presence is so inviting I no longer will the desire to resist. I see God in my roommate who reminds me again and again that no matter what shocking or horrifying thing I tell her, she still accepts me and says, "I'm not going anywhere, but here."

Attachment. There you have it. A peek into my internal monologue while I watch Owen at the park as he attacks a small child with an over-bearing hug, that nearly knocks the child to the ground. Owen won't let go.

And maybe you shouldn't either.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nanny Diaries: Victim of Neglect tells all.

Nanny Diaries: Through a Dog's eyes

My life was good until SHE came.

My wonderful masters were packing their bags and I was hiding in the closet. I hate when they go.

I watch HER fly in the door.

Her luggage.



Papers flying.

I see the list. A yellow list with neat lines. The list says that she is supposed to feed me twice a day, two scoops dry dog food, 2 tablespoons can style dog food. Pretty self explanatory stuff. The list didn't even mention my walk or my need for affection or the fact that I am obsessed with dog treats.

She and her sister “ohhh” and “ahh” over Owen. Owen. The little beast who steals all my God-given attention.

Of course my hopes begin to soar when SHE looks me in the eye from time to time and says, “Oh Maggie”, patronizingly of course. Never mind that. I can't be picky. I have to take what I can get. She rubs my ears. I think that's all she does and then my dreams die as she moves on to play trains with Owen.

Side note. I hate trains. Train are distracting little evil symbols of torture. They are scattered all across the house and my paws trip over them from time to time. The worst part is that trains matter more than me. I never win this competition. In a room with Thomas the Train show on, it's always Thomas that wins, not me. No matter how soft my coat is or even if I just had a good groom it does not matter. Owen likes his train tracks. Sometimes I find those bloody toys in my food, as if I want to have them as my very own steel and plastic diet.

Anyway, back to HER. She thinks she owns this place. She turns on the fireplace. Makes food. Invites her friends over for coffee and wine. Uses my internet. Lays in my bed. Plays with Owen on my grass. The least she could do was show me some love and feed me while she and Owen eat dinner. But the more I pout next to her at the table the more annoyed she becomes. Sometimes she drops some crumbs. Unfortunately the house maid is quicker than me and mops it up before I have a chance to indulge in a less than favorable crumb snack.

Now here is a confusing, ironic matter: Potty training. While SHE makes a huge deal out of Owen using the little boy potty, she does not CARE that I am the far more mannered and classy being of the household. The freaking potty sings when Owen goes. Nothing sings for me. In fact SHE does not even realize when it's time for me to go. I pace by the door. I whine. I bark. I hover by the door, hover by her, stare her down. Finally hours and hours later after she has told me to shut up countless times she looks at me with a blank stare. Then suddenly, realization crosses her face. And then like heaven has finally opened, the door opens up to the backyard by one single thrust of her arm. Then slams shut. She is not interested in congratulating me upon my pee scene.

One day, a very un-expected and hopeful thing happened. She could not turn off the fireplace. I was secretly delighted at this opportune moment for I knew SHE was not smart enough to turn it off, but not dumb enough to let it burn the house down. Therefore she was going to have get SOMEONE to come over. That meant I had a chance at love and affection. She brought the neighbor over. He seemed a classy poised human like myself (except in dog version) so I made it obvious that I approved of him immediately. He walked through the door and I barked with delight and even thought he would appreciate a little dance, the one in which my paws greet him at his chest. It is an elegant ballroom type dance and most human are not refined enough to understand the implications. As if my life couldn't get any worse I hear him say, “Don't want dog hair on my wool pants” The horror! Then SHE looks at me. I know it's coming. She grabs me by collar, slides my butt across the floor and hastily throws me into a room where I crash unto the carpet, my nose going flat. Then she locks me inside. Alone. Again. As if I am the outcast of this household, the victim, the diseased, the untouchable!

My lowest point was half way through the weekend though. All day, every hour, I checked my dog food bowl. No dog food. I decided to be patient because I assumed SHE was not the cruelest human there was, even if she was the most blond. I whined by the table when she fed Owen. Wagged my tail when she pulled snacks out of the cupboard. Barked happily when the pizza guy came. Growled because I felt hungry. I knew things were going sideways when SHE went back to her room to put on make-up and do her hair. I knew something was up. She was leaving. She was wrapping a birthday gift. She was trying on clothes and throwing shoes around the room. She was entertaining Owen with lotion and a comb. But she was NOT feeding me. Then I heard the keys. There is nothing like the sounds of keys. A ring. A jingle. You cannot mistake the sound of a car starting either. And with that she was gone. Gone to wine and dine and leave me in the dust to starve...and yes eventually die.

But I am a survivor of neglect, A victim of the most silent abuse ever known. I am here to write you the truth about such things. I am alive, but I am not well. Pets must be warned and educated about “the she”. “The she” does not remember to let you out to go to the bathroom, nor does she remember to feed you. She does not take you on walks, but she takes Owen to the park or beach or wherever he pleases. She does not think that I may want a grand day of escape and adventure. She does not comb my hair like Owen's or kiss me goodnight or say prayers with me.

She does not smile at me.

She laughs at me and mocks my very existence, to this I am ashamed of.

I have one good thing to note. This is to all the pets out there who might encounter an evil SHE. Your best bet to get close to her and experience some love is when she is afraid. It is best when it is the dead of night. It is best to do this when it sounds like there is a hurricane outside because of all the rain and wind. You see she took over my bed and still does not realize she is the true invader. Not I. Nonetheless SHE usually has me lay at her feet like her personal slave. Therefore in order to get back into my bed, I wait till she is very afraid. I wait till it is dark. And I wait till she is alone. Then I pounce on the bed at approximately 3am. While she is flustered and yells at you, she does not shove you off the bed. Instead she says, “lie down” which is actually a good sign because she is finally inviting you back to your rightful bed.

And while it just might be my imagination, she inched a bit closer to me; the night she was afraid. I heard her breathing relax and she fell fast asleep next to me.

Maybe someone, somewhere, forgot to give her “the people food”. Maybe she experienced days of neglect herself where she was locked into a dark cold room because some didn't approve of her. Maybe her masters lost her leash and she could never reconcile the tragedy. Whatever the case I made it my duty to protect her that night.

When I woke up the next morning in my bed I journeyed lazily out to my dog dish in the kitchen. There my dog dish was filled to the top, heaping with my very favorite delicacy: Dog food. She even threw in a dog treat for good measure.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow White: What a stud.

After reading the Disney blog from my extremely insightful and ridiculously talented fellow writer,Carissa, I have come to a certain conclusion.

It's a conclusion but also a confession. My style is definitely Snow White. While I used to be the kind of girl who was convinced that if she slept long and hard enough, she would be awakened by true love, that just was not the case. I woke up to a terrible pounding in my head with no male in sight. I don't think this is how it worked for Sleeping Beauty, but that's the way it worked for me. After much time of playing Barbie’s and watching Disney princesses movies as a child, I fell into a deep sleep and awoke wearing a bra and some plastic applicator shoved up me. The horror! I awoke to being a woman but no MAN was in sight.

Once I got over the horror of horrors I did realize there was some great doctrine to behold from Snow White. She is definitely our oldest and wisest mentor in Disney Princess history. Snow White had seven men. Two things I would like to point:

1. Seven is a good lucky number. Even Jesus likes it.
2. It is always better to have MORE than LESS (and by that I am referring to men) Pretty sure the Bible said, "two is better than one" catch my drift.

Snow White had many men who lived with her. They are as follows:


For those of you who are confused by how many "men" are in my life, now you can be certain you know there is seven and they all have names. I'll tell my friends stories and they'll always say, "I can't keep track of your men!" The thing is, they were never "my" men. They were just independent men. Men I was not even dating. But the other day I realized, if Snow White did it, why the heck can't I? Who knows who Snow White was really dating anyway! That's the point. She kept us all our toes. And we are forever grateful.

My "men" :

Mr. Super Hero Dad "I want some Aaaaaa (advil)"
This guy is swell. He is all American stay at home heroic dad. Everyone loves him. All the teachers at art class worship him. The nannies love him. The children cherish him. Well this dad, this married dad who has 3 daughters, decided that me and him and the kids should have what is called a “play date” in nanny circles. Things were fine until he started texting me smiley faces and giving me a play by play on his latest travels with his wife. The day he invited me over to his house (with the KIDS) to have a pool party seemed to be curious. Everything was breaking in his life, his car was at the shop, his windows were broken, the yard man was over, and all he knew was that he could not leave the house, so I had to come over. He assured me women came over all the time. A comforting thought. I definitely recommend this option if you are the home wrecker type. If you aren’t, well you won’t be able to keep up with this HERO dad (He’s EageR and Old)

Mr. Online "Take a Risk if you wanna DIE!":
Now this guy of mine is a true winner for highest risk, highest prize. You might have to re-vamp your definition of "prize" p.s. Anyway I was on a dating site and this guy contacted me. Date time. Where to meet. Well, he was a real free thinker with creativity exploding but had a small tiny limit. He couldn't meet within 400 ft from any school. You know the kind of school that has kids. That shouldn't be a problem since I like coffee shops.

Mr. Perfect Man:
My personal favorite. He was sent to me in package for Valentine’s Day. He is red and wearing army boots. He can grow up to 2-3 times his original size if you place him in water. It’s like magic. This little guy is profound. He doesn’t speak because he is busy growing! That’s really all I need. He’s the most low-maintenance thing I’ve found yet.

Tips to Grow a Boyfriend:
• Place boyfriend in room temperature water
• Your boyfriend will begin to grow within 2 hours and reach full growth within 72 hours. He will slowly shrink to smaller size when removed from water.
• Your boyfriend can be grown over and over again.

Mr. Radio Clubber:
This is the best kind of man. He is with you wherever you go. He is usually with me in the car. He sings to me and tells me how one night stands equal the forever kind of love, the only kind of love you can find at the club.
“So we back in the club
Get that bodies rockin from side to side
Put your hands on my body
Swear I seen you before
I think I remember those eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes
Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again”

Come to think of it, the guy is right, he has seen that girl before but he’s always high so it’s hard to remember such a thing.

Mr. Bar Boy:
Bar boy is sneaky and smelly. He smells of alcohol and cigarettes. He hovers too close and leans in too far. He does however make you feel wanted. He is also high. He is the guy that I tried to get off my back by smartly giving him my number so I could leave the bar in peace. He texted me a picture of his socks. To this day I don’t know why. Then 3am rolled around and he called to tell me about his hobbies, fishing and sex. He wanted me to know he was a straight shooter (no pun intended) and also that if I wanted I could come over and smoke a joint (And I had high hopes for fishing and sex!)

Mr Plane “slam it in” Man:
If you have any fear at all of traveling or turbulence this man is a must. He will get your mind off the turbulence and rocky ride of the airplane. Just tell him you’re studying to be a therapist and he will go into morbid detail about every girl he has dated, how it started and how it ended. He will tell you every awful thing he has done to girls and then charm you even more by buying you a drink. Once again you give him your number to get him “off” your back and get off that plane. Come New Years Eve he is texting and promising he can show YOU a good time at San Diego State. Can’t wait to be added to his roster. The honor.

Mr. Stalker:
I would sincerely love to go into a detailed and elaborate story on Mr. Stalker but he is the kind of stalker who will find this blog and read about himself.

There you have it. My seven men. Who are your seven men? Ladies, you gotta admit, Snow White was a genius. Although, while I love my men, I certainly wouldn’t want to live with all of them. Snow White walked on the dangerous wild side, plus she had a witch to deal with too. Thankfully I don’t deal with that. On second thought, passing out (due to the insane amount of creep and freak), might be a better option. Maybe Sleeping Beauty actually had it going on.

Author’s Note Part I: These stories are true and taken from actual life circumstances experienced by the author herself.

Author’s Note Part II: The part of the story that is not true but mildly sarcastic is the fact that the author wants seven men. She wants six men. She left Mr. Stalker behind.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Something I think about:

Two things I think about: The Bachelor. And atheism.

I like the show

But I don't understand it.

I don't like atheism.

But I do understand it.

I sat at Starbucks with a study buddy for class this past week. He was telling me about how he grew up. He grew up in a Christian home. The conversation went something like this.

I said, “Have you ever rebelled?”
“No” no hint of pride residing.
“Have you ever really wanted to?” my curiosity up
“Are you going to?” (Insert my massive skepticism, I know the answer whether or not he answered honestly)
“How do you know?” I started to get quietly abrasive.

Then he explained to me about freedom and how he has always had it, so why would he rebel when he already has what he wants. He said he grew up being able to have the freedom to do what he desired. That freedom motivated him. There was truth in that freedom. I really admired him for this.

It got me thinking. I thought about my mom and my grandma, amazing women of faith. Years and years, decades of loving God day in and day out, devotions every day, bible studies, church, worship, giving. So loyal. So dedicated. I have often wanted to ask them if they ever got bored. Or how they have maintained for so long. Even my dad and his parents, my grandparents. What gets them up at the crack of dawn to read their Bible? The same hymns. The same Bible verses. The same.

I am 25 years old and worried about becoming an atheist. Sometimes I'm worried about never getting a rose again too. But that is the lesser of two evils. I don't know if I have what it takes to stick around for the long haul of Christianity. I fear I will just rebel. Now I am a very stubborn person and deathly loyal. I wholeheartedly believe I could do devotions every day and always pray before meals and tithe 10% the rest of my life, but I could still be an atheist. I could still, deep down, not really believe or feel anything at all. No matter what I do externally I could be dead internally.

I truly do not have anything against Jesus Christ. In fact I am quite fond of Him. I like Him. I tell others I love Him because that is the thing to say and do. It's also cool to tell others you want to bring God glory but I don't even know what people are actually saying when they say that.

Sometimes I catch myself praying for others, “Just heal them God, help them, help them find you, help them want you, help them to know you.”

And out of nowhere I hear in response;


“Because you are God and they need to”

“A huh. And what does that do for them?”

“ I don't know. They need to know you because a good Christian prays that others will know God, it's called evangelism.”

“Nice. (insert sarcastic tone)..... Am I what is good for them? Do you have their best interest at heart?

Well that's the problem. You? The church? Christians? The culture of God? America?

I'll be honest. I grew up in a Christian home. I went to a Christian church. I was in bible studies, youth groups, leadership positions for every kind of spiritual thing out there, fellowship of christian athletes, mentor junior high girls, discipleship groups, Awanas. I tithed to the penny off of every check I made. I read my Bible every day. This is not an exaggeration. I literally read my Bible every single day without fail for 12 years. I went to a Christian college. It was awesome. Bible Classes. Chapel. Floor bible-studies. I was an RA for freshmen girls, on the leadership team. Then Bethel Seminary, on Senate, I was on staff at a church. I was the assistant to the children's director, on soul care staff, on global outreach staff. While I have experienced great things in all these places, I have experienced pain in spiritual leadership. I felt watched. Hovered. Judged. Talked about. Not safe. My Christian atmosphere, home, my work place, church was sometimes more like my war zone. Was I taking bullets for the team? Who was the team? And why was my team stabbing me in the back?

This is not about me church bashing. It's seriously one of my pet peeves. And the some of the people at the churches I have worked at I truly got to know are extremely loving and loyal people who are genuine. Everyone blames their spirituality about a church and how horrible churches are. I think that is dumb. Churches aren't perfect and anyone who expected such is living a delusion.

I am making a point here. My point is that my arrogance, for my entire life, stemmed from being spiritual. Not from my talents. I was in sports, but never the best. Not from my looks, I was somewhat pretty, but not a model by any means and not the kind of girl that demanded a room's attention. I was smart as in I got A's but I hated tests and always did poor on them. I was proud because I was spiritual. And not just spiritual but the MOST spiritual. I was the leader of leaders. I memorized verses left and right, I had filled 100 journals of prayers to God, I gave my senior testimony in chapel, I led worship team, I went on mission trips to orphanages. Certainly I had my insecurities, the ones no one knew about. Those were kept out of the lime light.

My spiritual life had begun to unravel long before I left the church I worked at. I left because I wanted to become more intentional and diligent about my spiritual walk.

Herein lies my problem. I feel like a beast. My arrogance is gone. Cause while people look at me and want me to lead their bible-study, in the end they would not. They would be horrified by my obnoxious thoughts. I am TIRED of the christian world. I want a break. I don't want to be in it. I am tired of tithe. I am tired of serving. I am tired of servant leadership. I don't want to count how many people I have “saved” anymore. I am sick of guilt and obligation, the best friends of the top motivators for real and lasting change. I am sick of cliché answers and how “God said so” is the final trump along with a whole list of useless jargon from well-intentioned, but less than heartfelt verbage.

It must be meant to be
Have you prayed about it?
The Lord is leading us together
The Lord is leading us apart
I want to bring glory to the Father.
The Bible says....
You would make a great helpmeet
The Lord's discipline.
Children obey your parents
Sex before marriage can ruin your life.
Well just pray about it
The Lord told me...
Come serve.
I want to be a witness.
It must be God's will.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
It is the woman's role.
Have more faith

Try telling any of those lines to the girl who was just sexually abused. Try telling them to the girl who had sex with her boyfriend and is now suicidal because of it. Tell those hurting overseas dealing with war and genocide. Tell that to the person dealing with addictions. Tell that to the paralyzed. Tell that to the man who just lost his wife to an affair. Tell that to the orphan.

I feel horribly guilty for even writing these down but it's just how I feel. I just quit at the church, where I felt like I was on a tight rope, walking a fragile line much like the a balance beam of performance. Now I am still in Seminary taking Bible classes and I don't care about post or pre-tribulation and I don't care that this author thinks that Paul was this way or that way. I don't care about the North or South Galation view. I sincerely feel like I can't take it anymore. I can't cram one more thing down my throat. In fact I want to say NO to every service act, every obligation, every “politically correct” thing to do in a church. No bible study. I only want more friends. No 10% tithe. I'll give when I feel like it. No cheesy devotionals to check off my list. I said yes to so much at the church I worked at. I worked in Soul Care ministry. I work in Global Outreach and I worked in Children s Ministry.I worked in the youth ministry. The junior high. The high school. I went to Morocco on a missions trip I taught Sunday School. I got sick of Jonah and the Whale. I got sick of talking about how you'll be punished if you don't listen to God, to 5 year old kids who just want to play. I hate staying within the bounds of safe and comfortable and yet I'm addicted to it. I felt dead inside. Nothing made me feel alive. I disliked dealing with membership cards and removing people and putting them on the “drop list” cause it felt more like a club than a church. I hated hearing gossip from people who didn't see my heart.

I have heard every book there is on finding the right on, dating, lust and being pure. I could tell you more about those books than almost anything.

I have written countless research papers on exegetical studies on passages in the Bible.

I have heard every sermon out there on women submitting and on finances.

I have been to all the Christian concerts and all the leadership conferences.

I just keep thinking about how much more of life I have to go and I feel like, “What does God want with me?” I'm a lame Christian. I am entirely cynical, restless and annoyed. I am not a cool Christian anymore. I talk to God in the car. Sometimes I fear He may not like me anymore. I think about Him turning water into wine at the party just because He could. Not so people would not have sex before marriage (the marriage was on!) but so people could party harder. I thought about him multiplying the fish so people could eat more food, not so they could read their Bibles or tithe more. So they could eat.

I don't want to be the girl that leaves church and never returns and her spirituality is a “quiet private matter”. What is the point? But that is the point right? Cause if it's real to me when I am alone then it will be real to me when I step out into the crowd?

Perhaps God's loyalty to me is stronger than mine to Him.

And perhaps God doesn't need me in a structure or an organization or even something made of human hands for him to get to me.

I felt God in Hawaii. I didn't go to church. I didn't go to Seminary. I didn't learn about Greek. I didn't go to bible study. I didn't give my money to the homeless. I just did what I wanted to do. I stared out at the ocean. I felt God's favor and I knew I didn't deserve it. I felt Him giving to me. Generously. I was not cool enough for so much good. It was a selfish vacation. One in which my goal was to relax and have fun every day. No obligations, no stress, no worries. I was free. And God was there. Not a ball and chain. Not a choke hold. Nothing suffocating my air.

I wanted to ignore the feeling I had. The presence of God. And forgive me for the cliché, but with everything that happened in Hawaii I couldn't help but get more and more curious about God and His affection for me.

Perhaps He adored me.

I just thought He was the boss and I wasn't producing (you know the fruit, bear much fruit) so I thought He might throw me out, that or I would throw myself out. What's the point of an employee if they can't produce the right product?

I think I fired myself.

Maybe God was hoping I would.

Cause He just wanted me.

He didn't need my “good list” or my resume of spiritual achievements, or my list of people I have converted, and my sheet that reads of all the sins I have so magically avoided. He didn't even need my money. He didn't need me to save that person from hell and He didn't need me to run myself in circles to prove to Him and the world that I loved him.

I don't want to be a Christian simply so I can avoid hell.

Besides God loves the atheist too.

I want Jesus just for Him.

I just wish I knew how to separate Him from all the bull shit.

Back to Starbucks, the question is turned on me.

“Have you ever rebelled?”
“No” I said.
“Have you ever really wanted to?”
“Are you going to?”
“Definitely Yes”
“How do you know?”
“Because I want to be free so badly”

I don't want to be bound by my pressure, guilt, shame, obsession, fear and worry. I want freedom and so yes I will rebel. I will rebel against the cliches and famous jargons and the publicity riot over Christianity. I want the real thing. I will rebel against addictions and thoughtless prideful devotion. I will rebel against fake, arrogant, spirituality. And as much as my inner subconscious screams that God must hate my rebellion by now as I watch the offering plate fly by and I don't sing the words to the worship songs because I don't yet believe them, I see a flash of red, a smell of something sweet.

“Will you accept this rose?”

The shock of being picked again by Jesus. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second.

“Will you accept this rose?”

I love you, I chose you, I want you, I want you, I WANT you, You are enough, you are beautiful, You are my favorite, I adore you, YOU are the best, I won't stop vying for your attention, I won't stop wanting you ever, I won't stop fighting for your heart, I wont' stop looking at you because I don't know how to look away, I am captured, enthralled, lost my mind... over you.

“Will you accept this rose?”

A red petal falls to the ground. Stains the carpet in red.

“I will”

I give Him a glance, while He pursues my gaze.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

Right. I know it's not Christmas anymore or time to pull out the old classic, "It's a Wonderful Life" My mom and aunties simply loved that movie. Every year they pulled it out to watch it.

In reality the movie is kind of sad. A lot of traumatic things happen and life is really hard for awhile. But in the end, the sun starts to shine and there is a glow at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes, hard things make you really discover what you appreciate about life.

Right now I feel like I appreciate everything.

After Christmas I had some MAJOR obstacles I had to overcome. The dread built with each passing week, day and then hour as my health procedure reared it's ugly head. My chest was continually getting tighter and I had a hard time focusing on anything at all. My brain fought my obsessive paralyzing thoughts but my body and heart made it hard to surrender.

Now that the procedure is over, I can look back, as I do about many things in life and think, "That was not so bad, and definitely not worth all my consuming worry!" In fact, my health issues showed me how awesome my friends are. The people who cared. The people who called or wrote to ask about what was going on. The prayers lifted up. The friend taking me home after my sedation of heavy does of drugs and the friend holding my hand while the IV was hooked up to me. The friend getting me chicken broth, the friend being there when I woke up, the family member fasting for me.

I literally awoke to a whole new world.

The sky was bluer. The grass was greener. And while yes, the happy drugs made me very happy, life just seemed to be full of unending joy and possibilities. I could eat again. I could drink again. I didn't have to be on a yucky diet anymore. I didn't have to worry about health forms and paper work. It was over. The news was good. I am healthy!

And what a huge blessing that is.

But I am finding my fear and obsession of "the worst" is almost more binding and paralyzing than the actual situation. My emotions run ahead of me without my consent, breaking free of the leash I so fiercely cling to .

Today I feel happy. Alive. Not a care in the world. Breathe deeply. Everything in life looks good. I am going to Hawaii in like 4 days! How can it not look good?! Soon I will be sipping drinks on the beach and indulging in the sun and sand between my toes. Even my paper that is due before I leave can't rip this joy from my heart. This joy is mine.

I am finding that optimism is a gift. I get annoyed with my optimistic friends. I am a realist. I live in reality. I am studying marriage, child and family therapy. I learn about domestic violence, child abuse, drug addiction and dysfunctional families and broken people. I don't want to step into optimism because it's not reality.

Or is it?

My friends who are optimistic do HAVE MORE FUN. My one friend Toby is an EMT, he sees a lot of heartache. He sees people struggling with age, having heart attacks and being scared on a regular basis, yet he is so optimistic. I think that saves people more than anything.

Because yes, bad things do happen. But on the off chance they don't, why not cling to that hope? The addict may change. The family may choose transformation, the person may be healed...

In the end I'll probably regret not being more optimistic anyway.

What am I really so afraid of? Because somehow, in a way I can't describe or understand fully, God's got it. God's got THIS. ME. IT. Whatever "it" maybe. Despite free will and predestination, whatever you believe about God intervening or not intervening in our fallen world, He is the One who's got this. Got you and got me. In the end HE WINS. WE WIN. The sky really is the limit.

And it really is okay to let go.

During my procedure and leading up to and after in recovery my mind kept coming back to a day at the beach with the two year old I nanny. For whatever reason, Owen, ever since I've known him has been terrified of the beach and HATED sand. It's like "You live in San Diego buddy, ENJOY IT!"

But noooo time and time again Owen cried when I would get near the ocean or his sandals would fill with sand at the park. One day though, he joined a bunch of kids playing in the sand at the park. He probably joined because he saw trucks and trains and he simply can't resist those. But he sat there in the sand.

This in turn gave me the idea and the plan for: BEACH DAY FOR OWEN.

So Owen, and a dad and his two year old son and I planned a "play date" at the beach. I knew Owen liked Reed (the two year old from his gym class) and once he saw how much fun Reed was having he would too. But Owen clung to me tightly as I carried him onto the beach. He was crying. I held him and told him it would be alright. We got out a blanket so he could sit on it instead of the sand. I sat down next to him and played in the sand. Owen was too scared to venture down to the ocean itself so the dad, Eric, brought a bucket of "ocean" up to Owen, full with sea-shells, sand and water. Even then Owen was afraid to stick his tiny fingers in and touch whatever mysterious creature may lie below the depths. He checked to make sure I was there, caught my eye and sat down on Eric's leg and slowly reached his hand in, reeling back with water and a smile of sheer delight plastered across his face.

Not so bad at all. Somedays I think God brings the ocean up to me in a little bucket. Maybe someday, when I'm not so afraid, I'll actually let him walk me down to the ocean.

But for now I'm okay with the seashell bucket. It's a wonderful life!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Element of Suprise

I have encountered a fascinating realization. In life there are very few controlled variables. Instead, there are mysterious, not so tangible variables. I've been contemplating this recently because there are so many things in my life that are unknown. My sisters always make fun of me because I love surprises. I am surprise-obsessed.

Are the flowers at the door for me?
Is my sister going to show up at my house all the way from Oklahoma to surprise me for my 25th birthday?
Will I pull that A in class?
Is there that perfect gift under the tree?
Will the two year old boy I nanny for say a new word today?

I love shock appeal for this very reason. I love surprise.

But more than others surprising me sometimes I surprise myself.
I go neurotic when I had high hopes of being calm.
I snort when I laugh.
The coffee is cheaper than expected.
I care more than I wanted.
The painting I created is better than imagined.

Then of course there is a dark side to surprise. The out of control part. The questions without concrete answers.

Will an earthquake take my tomorrow away?
Will the test results come back and reveal my health is in jepordy?
What if I do buy a dog and end up being a “dog women”, never to let love in?
What if that person is not out there?
Maybe, surprise, I don't pass the exam?
Surprise, my legs are too injured to run.
What about you?
The flowers at the door are not yours, they are yours roommates.
Surprise, the car accident stole your closest family member
Shock, you were laid off.
Punch in the gut, he walked away from everything you two had created.

Imagine stepping into a dark room. Suddenly all the lights flash on, confetti chucked at you, colorful,vibrant balloons, cameras click and everyone hidden in corners yells, “Surprise!”
A banner hung boldly says, “Life is not what you thought it was.”

These are the surprises that merit no celebrations.

And yet I then begin to imagine a life that was known, predictable, the same. Pretend for a minute your life was already set in stone and you knew your career, your family, who'd you marry, where'd you live, what you would and wouldn't accomplish. Somehow free will is ripped from your grasp and life takes on a robotic dull glow. No mystery. No second guessing. No waking up and planning. Already done. No dreaming. No wishing. No running into someone and being surprised by their warmth and the way they looked at you. No being surprised by how good the steak tastes. It was already known you would start the orphanage in Uganda. No risk at all. No strategizing. Life would be boring.

Much like the convenience of a dog, eat, sleep, roam about the house, the usual walks outside, the same dry dog food. The typical red leash. Yawn. While it seems safe and cozy my bet is the day the dog groans in the usual morning ritual, but then goes on an unexpected road trip up the moutains to go camping is the best day of the dog's life. Surprise! Run free! No leash and no typical sidewalks to stroll through the cement jungle.

I think one day we will wake up to a new day and we are going to be surprised. It will be the best day of our life. It will be the perfect surprise. The narrow balance beam sidewalks of performance will be gone, the tear stained surprise boxes that held disappointment, the rulers that measured who I was. The surprise was never good enough.

Finally the greatest surprise. I come face to face with Him. The creator of the best kind of surprise. I thought you died, I choke back. Stronger than you think, He reads me. I see a glow in His eyes. I catch my breath. “Welcome home” He says, I look to reach for His hand only to realize He was already holding mine.

The confetti, the balloons, lights flash, people smiling and laughing, I walk out of the dark shadow of before today and hear everyone yell, “Surprise!”

It's over, just a minute ago I was there at the exam, so afraid, conscious sedation so they call it, quicker procedure than I imagined, the element of surprise.

Life is not what I thought it was and I'm so glad I was wrong. I suppose I love surprises more than I did before.